End Your Writing Session With A Hook

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Reminder: The Short Story Contest
* End Your Writing Session With A Hook
* Every Story and Every Time Period Boils Down to One
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Edwin H. Land

Reminder: The Short Story Contest

submission period ends tonight at midnight. If you want to send an entry, send it before midnnight tonight Arizona time (3 a.m. in New York).

You can read the submission requirements here.

End Your Writing Session With A Hook

In yesterday’s Journal, I talked about how the cliffhanger-hook combo compels readers to keep reading. That same combination will also compel you to keep writing.

As the first person ever to read the story your characters have conveyed through your fingertips, you will encounter those cliffhangers and hooks while you’re cycling.

If you’re writing into the dark, chances are you will even encounter and recognize some cliffhangers and hooks that you didn’t realize you’d put on the page.

But you can carry it a step further than that. If possible (and it’s always possible), end each writing session and certainly end each day’s writing with a hook.

Sometimes my hook is what most people think of as a hook: an electric sentence or paragraph that forces me (and the reader) to find out what happens next.

Sometimes, though rarely, my end-of-session or end-of-day hook is only an unfinished sentence.

Accomplished SF writer CJ Cherryh once said the writer should finish each day’s work by putting the main character into a shower. Why? Because when the writer comes back the next day, s/he has to get the character out of the shower before s/he can write anything else.

See? That into-the-shower trick is an all-in-one cliffhanger-hook.

Instead of finishing a chapter, shoving back your chair, and trudging out to rejoin humankind, stay a few more minutes.

Plop a scene-break indicator (I use a single, centered asterisk) or the next chapter header on the page, then write the next sentence or two.

When you return for the next session or the next day’s writing, cycle through what you wrote the session or day before. And when you get to the hook you wrote, you’ll be compelled to continue conveying the characters’ story.

Remember to read strictly for pleasure (not critically) when you’re cycling. Don’t “look for” anything. Just read and let your fingertips rest on the keyboard, ready for your characters’ input.

As a friend recently put it, Stay in the present moment with your characters.

Every Story and Every Time Period Boils Down to One

One word. One sentence. One paragraph.

One minute. One hour. One day.

Everything else launches off that.

Look at your aspirations toward writing fiction the same way you look at setting and reaching your goals: one bite at a time.

Sometimes I get the feeling the numbers I report are a little intimidating to some other writers. I don’t mean for them to be. By posting them daily, I’m only trying to illustrate what is possible.

In the 22-volume Wes Crowley saga alone, there are over 1,001,000 words. Since I started writing fiction in earnest, I’ve written four or five million words.

But it might help to remember those words went onto the page and those stories came into being one letter at a time, one word at a time, one sentence at a time. I don’t think about word count while I’m writing. I just write.

If you sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write, the numbers (and stories and novels) will come. If you don’t, they won’t. And how will that feel tomorrow?

Likewise, when I mention that I’ve written all 90 novels, 9 novellas, over 230 short stories and several nonfiction books on writing since April 2014, some find that daunting too.

I mean, the time period itself—a whole decade—is daunting.

But again, none of that was by plan. I didn’t set some lofty goal. I didn’t sit down in April 2014 and say, “All right, I’m gonna write for ten years and see how much I can get done.”

I just Sat Down (there’s the key, right there) and wrote a word, a sentence, a paragraph.

Then I Kept Coming Back. That’s the second key.

The numbers of words and stories and novels themselves are a little daunting too, and even more so when you realize I actually wrote all of that in a little over seven years, not ten. There were two and a half or three years during that decade when I wrote little or no fiction.

But again, I didn’t just plop down at my desk one day and have ten years’ worth of writing “bestowed” upon me. It was one letter, one word, and one sentence at a time.

The trick is to sit down and begin. Type a word, then another, a sentence, a paragraph. Then just keep coming back. Just keep going.

Don’t think about what you will have accomplished when you look back in a year or five years or ten years. Think about how good you’ll feel tomorrow when you cycle back over what you wrote today.

Comparison is another essential go-to for me.

  • It drives me to get up in the morning, and
  • it drives me to the computer, and sometimes,
  • it keeps me in the chair a few minutes longer, or
  • makes me come back to the writing one more time during the day.

And while we’re on the topic of comparisons, there is only one valid, useful comparison, and it’s the only one that matters.

I don’t compare myself with DW Smith or S King or Vin Zandri.

I compare myself with me. What did I accomplish today compared with what I accomplished yesterday?

As I said, that’s the only comparison that matters.

So if it helps you to “chase” or even surpass me or anyone else, go for it. I’ll applaud you as you go by.

Likewise, if you have a busy life and it takes you several short writing sessions over four or five days to write your short story for the Bradbury Challenge that week, I’ll applaud that too.

It’s all the same to me. In the present, writers write. Everything else is just looking back and saying, “Wow. Look what I did!”

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Last Day of the Sale and These Type of Blogs Maybe exciting news.

Dialect and Idiolect

Famous Last Words

The Numbers

The Journal………………………………1080

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for May…………………….….… 9734
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 313519
Fiction since October 1………………… 616577
Nonfiction for May……………………… 7970
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 162310
2024 consumable words……………… 475829

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 8
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………… 90
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……… 239
Short story collections…………………… 29

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing are lies, and they will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

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